The Delines – The Sea Drift
Portland, Oregon’s The Delines begin their soulful CD with laid-back beauties by vocalist Amy Boone who spreads her vocalizing out like honey on storytelling lyrics. “Little Earl” pours out sublime, with a warm texture punctuated by horns.
Everything’s disciplined — no showboating or over-accentuated words. I could easily allude to some classic 60s soul songs, but The Delines have designed their showcase in a smart cinematic manner. The arrangements by 2-arrangers are sharp & engaging.
“Kid Codeine,” with a refined approach could be construed as laid-back, but the words are potent, Amy’s voice, appealing. The instrumentation simply supports her with striking charts. It’s a fluent gentle on your mind unfailingly melodious presentation. Not easy.
The band could likely come across as relevant, significant lyrically & musically as The Blue Nile or Prayer Boat. They may not yet be as dark & creative, but they do write & perform with rare intelligence.
“Drowning In Plain Sight,” is imaginative. Boone is effective with a voice that suggests she’d be equally impressive as a blues chanteuse or easy listening jazz singer. There’s a dreamy brightness as Boone coasts through her lyrics confidently & as musicians paint lush strokes over her. Strings & horns were arranged by Cory Gray (keyboards/trumpet) have a tight expressive groove. John Morgan Askew (producer/guitar/baritone guitar/vocals) arranged strings for “Little Earl,” “Ain’t No Getaway,” Hold Me Slow.”
The Sea Drift (Drops Feb 11–Jealous Butcher US/Décor Records – Worldwide) delivers 11 distinguished & sophisticated songs based on soul music (not country) with a potpourri of jazz, contemporary R&B, easy listening, & middle-of-the-road qualities.
The players: Freddy Trujilli (bass/vocals), Willy Vlautin (guitar/vocals/author/songwriter) & Kyleen King (violin/viola), Sean Oldham (percussion/vocals), Patti King (violin), Collin Oldham (cello), & Noah Bernstein (sax).
The showcase is constructed with little or no embellishments. Superlative restrained performances & yet everything gains altitude. There’s a Peggy Lee (“Is That All There Is?”) quality to “Hold Me Slow. It borders on adult-contemporary the lustiness of Boone’s voice without being suggestive borrows from Julie London (“Cry Me a River”).
The temperature rises on “Past the Shadows.” It remains in low gear but has juice & prominent brass. The Delines have renovated soul music. Their efforts sans synthesizers, electronics have opted for the human voice-over effects.
I’m also impressed with their choice of song titles & subjects. “It’s six o’clock in the morning, the sun’s coming through the shades,” – start the noirish tale “This Ain’t No Getaway.” A dynamic narrative that even mentions a loaded .38. Excellent songwriting, no cliches. It mines the pulse of the street, with sensitivity in each word & note. Boone & the band are exceptional.
Great late-night FM radio music with red wine, a Raymond Chandler novel & a box of brandied cherries.
Photo credit: Danelle Painter. The CD is available @ Bandcamp – https://thedelines.bandcamp.com/album/the-sea-drift-3